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Center City Lines Up for Takeout Cocktails

Warm weather and the promise of margaritas to go proved irresistible

El Vez and neighboring restaurants on 13th Street in Center City were open with takeout food and cocktails over Memorial Day weekend.
Rachel Vigoda

Warm weather, a holiday weekend, and the city’s first legal takeout cocktails brought out the crowds in Center City, with people lining up for to-go cups of frosé, margaritas, and daiquiris at several spots.

Legislation temporarily allowing restaurants and bars with liquor licenses to sell takeout cocktails during the coronavirus crisis — in sealed containers and not for on-premises or on-the-street drinking — went into effect on May 21.

Restaurants were ready to go with everything from packaged and labeled bottles of negronis and boulevardiers to styrofoam cups overflowing with boozy, sugary frozen concoctions.

Some restaurants on Rittenhouse Square and in Midtown Village/the Gayborhood had a smooth system in place, with signs, tables, ropes, and the sidewalk marked for social distancing. In front of a few bars, it was more of a crowded block party atmosphere.

The front windows at Parc, right on the Square, were thrown open for sales of frosé, wine, bread, cheese, and the restaurant’s classic French dishes.

Around the corner on Locust Street, the new Via Locusta had a similar market setup, with bottled cocktails displayed next to wine, beer, and soda, bags of pasta, pints of sauce, hand-pulled mozzarella, and loaves of bread. Gelato and espresso were on offer too.

On 13th and Sansom, El Vez had separate lines for drinks and food pickup, with the food area further sectioned off into one table for diners picking up their own orders and one for delivery service workers.

A couple doors down, vegan cocktail lounge Charlie Was a Sinner attracted all types of customers.

At seafood restaurant Pinefish on 12th and Pine, the focus was on food, not cocktails, with two people eating their takeout order in a convertible in front of the restaurant.